Posted by: Vanessa Robinson
Trust in the banking sector: can HR really help break the current culture?
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Building on CIPD’s recent research into trust and looking at the role HR can play in re-building trust and changing the culture in the banking sector
Recent events in the banking sector that have been unfolding in the Press over the last week or so, once again seriously destabilise public confidence in the banking sector generally, (including those same institutions that taxpayers so recently bailed out) and more specifically in their leadership. One consequence of this is a further erosion of trust in this sector, from society as a whole.
Recent CIPD research Where has all the trust gone? highlights a clear role for leaders in both building and more importantly restoring trust. This report highlights that leaders need to demonstrate that they are not “self-serving” but instead serving the needs of the whole organisation. The research also identifies the need for leaders to display enough of their personal integrity and humanity to enable people to choose to trust them. Possibly the problem that the last two banking crises has revealed is that people have trusted leaders too much.
However, possibly this latest scandal is going to be the start of a different response. The public and political outcries, and resulting senior level resignations, illustrate that maybe people haven now chosen not to trust the current leaders.
And this lies at the heart of trust. It cannot be imposed; rather it is a reciprocal relationship between two or more parties despite uncertainty or risk.
And this is why once the current debacle calms down, it is vital to look at what can be done to address the underlying issues?
No doubt there will be big statements made and principles and policies introduced suggesting again the need for integrity. Possibly there’ll be further rules. However, without underlying changes in behaviours, a focus on these principles and rules could only encourage those who are so inclined to look for new ways to get around them.
To make changes in behaviours, leaders need to take a different approach to leadership, one that is based on values and integrity. But this then needs to be evidenced by the actions not just of the leaders themselves, but also by the way they encourage those same behaviours through all levels of the organisation.
HR can clearly contribute to making these changes. They are not the owners of culture, but they no doubt are in a strong position to understand the culture that plays out in different parts of an organisation – and to support the creation of open, transparent, straight talking cultures. Equally importantly, as our Trust research has highlighted, now is the time for HR to see its role as “the conscience of the organisation” or in other words, guardian and champion of ethical and integrity issues. Above all, this requires HR to challenge where they see inappropriate behaviours or cultures being tolerated.
Vanessa Robinson, Head of HR Practice Development,
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